Storm-Damaged Counties to Weigh Needs for BP Money
Northwest Florida counties digging out and starting to rebuild after Hurricane Michael will be asked to reevaluate their priority lists for BP oil-spill money.
The Triumph Gulf Coast Board of Directors, which was set up by the Legislature to oversee settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, agreed Tuesday to give time for officials in hurricane-decimated counties to re-prioritize economic-development needs.
Triumph Gulf Coast works on issues in eight Northwest Florida counties, including Bay, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla, which were among the hardest-hit areas in the Category 4 Hurricane Michael.
“When the chainsaws can’t be heard in the neighborhoods anymore and when the blue tarps come down, because someday they will come down, the jobs Triumph Gulf Coast is commissioned to induce and promote will be more needed than ever,” said Triumph board Chairman Don Gaetz, a former Senate president from Niceville.
The board — which moved its meeting Tuesday from hurricane-damaged Port St. Joe to Crestview — also agreed to give some “flexibility” in a performance timeline to a technical training program in Bay County that received funding in July. Bay County’s schools are expected to reopen by mid-November, about a month after the Oct. 10 storm.